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Reviewed by Austin Powell, January 26, 2007, Music

Ghostland Observatory

Hogg Auditorium, Jan. 19

Two minutes to midnight, Ghostland Observatory's long-awaited, sold-out evening at the opera quickly turned into an all-out panic at the disco. Acting as both caped phantom and "Angel of Music," Thomas Turner's beats from behind the drum kit and drum machine made even the uppermost row in the balcony seem like a prime spot on the dance floor from the opening pulse of "Piano Man" through to final closer "Edge of Town" more than 90 minutes later. Prima donna frontman Aaron Behrens, all glam in gold lamé, stole the spotlight as usual. His androgynous sexual swagger and endless end-zone dances, equal parts Napoleon Dynamite and Prince, lived up to the post-ACL Music Fest 2006 hype and only furthered the crowd's complete lack of inhibition during "Vibrate" and "Sad, Sad City." It was enough to wonder what went down outside UT's PAC beforehand. The electro-thrash of "All You Rock and Rollers" and "Rich Man" went off like a male-counterpart to Peaches, with Behrens' vocals always teetering between his glass-shattering falsetto and abrasive shriek. The only change in pace came during synth-laced ballad "Silver City" and the brief intermission 35 minutes in. What the show lacked in musical variety was drowned out by a killer sound system and etched with the accompanying laser spectacular, which, oddly enough, resembled J.Lo's "Waiting for Tonight" video. Mesmerizing beams of light swept over the audience, panning slowly like a searchlight during "Cause a Scene," and flickered to match the electronic oscillations of "Move With Your Lover." The hyperactive climax of "Shoot 'Em Down" nearly caused seizures. What the sleep-inducing drone of openers the Black Angels proved in contrast is that Ghostland Observatory is the only act in town that could pull off such an extravagant and grand production.

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